Friday, August 26, 2011

Exploring some aspects of Frenchness in English.


The following are some features of French words adopted into English: (1) diacritics, e.g. façade (with a small “tail”, a cedilla, trailing from the bottom of the letter “c”), née and passé (with a little tick, an acute, over the letter “e”), vis-à-vis (with a reversed tick, a grave, over the letter “a”), and rôle (with a “cap”, a circumflex, over the letter “o”) – but the diacritics are commonly omitted; (2) the terminating -re pronounced as -er, as in manoeuvre, reconnoitre, and sombre; (3) the terminating -re sounded as a faint burr represented by the phoneme “r”, as in genre and macabre; (4) the terminating -le pronounced as -l rather than -el, as in ensemble; (5) the terminating -oir pronounced as -wah, as in memoir and reservoir; and (6) the terminating -ment pronounced somewhat like -mong but with the “ng” muted, as in denouement.


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